I first visited Daniel Lutolf in Switzerland in 2005 when Ian Ainley and I were invited to judge the Swiss National show. The quality of his birds soon became evident as during the show I awarded Daniel five of the six colour awards I judged that day. I particularly remember a wonderful Cinnamon Skyblue cock that I fell in love with at the time. The one bird of his that failed to win the colour award was his light Green cock, I placed it second in the class, and to this day he has never let me forget it. We still smile about it today, well at least I do.
The following day Ian and I were invited to Daniels home to view his stud in more detail, to say I was amazed at what I saw was an understatement. We spent the next three or four hours looking at one top quality budgerigar after another, as Daniel took birds out of the breeding cages and placed them in a show cage with the wire front removed, we smiled as these birds just sat on the perches and made no attempt to fly out of the cage. He would lift the inner box from his nest boxes and place it on a table and lift the cock bird out for us to admire and for me to photograph, the hen continued to sit her eggs, it was her turn next as he replaced the cock and put the hen in the show cage, the cock tended the chicks while the inner box still sat on the table. Daniel certainly has an affinity with his birds, of this there is no doubt. He is more focused than anyone I have ever met before.
Once we had looked at all the adults, he wanted to show us all the babies, by now it was the early hours of the morning and we had another aviary visit booked later in the day, we had to leave, but Daniel insisted we stay a little longer, I am pleased to say we did but eventually it was time for us to depart, as we could barely stay awake.
In January 2012 I returned to Switzerland with Champion breeder Robbie Keeber, six years on from my first visit. Following a restless night in a hotel, we were up early, a quick breakfast and we were on our way to the Lutolf residence.
Daniel had moved house since my first visit and as Robbie Keeber and I entered his new birdroom, it was quickly evident that this stud was still top notch. Although the birds had changed in as much there were different type/styles of budgerigar, the overall quality was mind blowing.
Daniel still has birds that in my opinion feature the top UK birds, being large with good shoulder and width in the face, this coupled with what has become known as the Continental feather, and to use his own description the “Extreme” feather where the directional feathering on the head turns down to extremes.
As usual Daniel is a wonderful host, he spoke at length about his stud and individual birds, it was a pleasure to listen to his experiences in the breeding room. I would recommend anyone to visit, if all you want to do is to look at and talk about quality budgerigars, I can think of no better place to be. He proudly showed us many of his breeding cocks and hens and also his babies. He has top quality in many varieties, his Recessive Pieds and Lutino’s are out of this World and would compete well against many top Normal’s on the show bench. I saw a Dilute cock of which I have never seen the like before, it was outstanding in every way. I set about photographing some of the birds, unfortunately many of them were in a moult or were showing the signs of breeding, but I think you will agree from the images featured with this article the quality of his birds is there for all to see.
Basement Bird room
Daniel has again used the basement of the property to create his Bird room, this makes for a wonderful atmosphere with the temperature being even all year round. There is a large flight at one end of the main breeding room which at the time of our visit housed his young birds and babies. The other three walls house his ninety breeding cages. Another huge cellar room has been converted into one large, and I mean large flight, we counted around 150 birds in it, far from being anywhere near over crowded.
Daniel is a stockman of the highest order of that there is no doubt. He can and does create budgerigars that he sees as HIS ideal. The time he spends around his birds is far beyond the call of duty, but he is a focused man with a passion for his budgerigars. I am not surprised he achieves the very high standard he has set himself; in my mind it is nothing more than he deserves.